How, you’ve asked, did my 2008 reading challenge change me?
A couple ways come to mind, the first being that I learned how to (duh) read a lot. Not to read fast, mind you; I’m still slow, I sub-vocalize. But yet to read a lot. Mostly, I reallocated evenings to reading instead of wishing there was something good to watch on TV. By finding minutes to read whenever I waited in a line or for an appointment. And especially by paying attention -- if I wasn’t making progress in a book, I learned to eliminate distractions and dig in deeper until the pages took hold. If they didn’t (no time for that! either in the Challenge or in life), Plan C was to ease up by alternating the book with another, more engaging read … or finally by cutting bait altogether and abandoning the book to a pile for the Friends of the Library sale.
Second, I learned to trust in abundance. I'm stingy with pleasures, including books, saving them up instead of gobbling them up. But by giving myself permission (a mandate, really) to savor a bunch of books, I had opportunity after opportunity to notice that each time I finished one, another (two others? ten?) appeared in its place. (Ah, abundance: so many lessons still there for me. It was, after all, the stimulus for beginning this blog two years ago.)
All that reading diverted me from my family ... friends ... homekeeping ... this blog. And my writing. For a year, I spent no time in the energy of my favorite magazines -- New Scientist’s curiosity, Martha Stewart Living’s lush images, O Magazine’s fun. While meantime, the deep immersion in long works (especially novels) explored ideas rather than incited them. My imagination turned dusty, a rare idea blowing through like tumbleweed.
Only recently have I felt a hint of humidity returning. Part of it must be a satisfaction at finally having read some of the books that are basics in literature or popular culture (Alice in Wonderland, for God’s sake!). Part of it is probably the year’s accumulation of some very good reading that is starting to compost. Whatever, a bit of it escaped in a little creative burp while I was in the driver’s seat on a road trip over Thanksgiving … and I suddenly connected the premises of two of my (languishing) writing projects and merged them into something new. Huh!
I have no better transition into this year’s reading than to simply admit I’ve taken on the 999 Challenge. Not for the volume of reading this time, but because organizing and list-making are forms of play to me. Heck, it was fun just to gather the Challenge books that I already own onto this separate shelf.
How about you? Any readerly learnings from 2008? Any solid or semi-solid plans for 2009?